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Is Same-Sex Marriage an Equality Issue? Framing Effects Among African Americans


Journal of Black Studies

Published online on


Public opinion about gay rights is often shaped by egalitarian values. While the extant literature has suggested that African Americans’ value structure tends to be very egalitarian, many popular media accounts as well as some scholarly research indicate that Blacks have, at times, opposed gay rights. We assert that when the media frame gay rights as equality issues, Blacks are more likely to rely on egalitarianism to form their opinions. We use content analysis to show that equality framing of gay rights dramatically increased in 2012, and we use national survey data to show that Blacks’ support for marriage equality also precipitously rose beginning in 2012. Then, we use data from an original framing experiment to show that exposure to an equality frame does, indeed, encourage Blacks to be more reliant on their egalitarian values to form an opinion about same-sex marriage and to be more supportive of the policy.